Indoor Training

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I’m not big on riding indoors.  I think I have posted that here about a zillion times.  One of the best things about the sport of cycling is the interactions and visuals I get from moving outdoors at a speed fast enough to get somewhere, but slow enough to absorb the information.  I think most of us would agree with this.

But I do understand the predicament that many get into during the winter when you leave for work when it is dark and return home, once again, in the dark.

We’ve been meeting after sunset the last few weeks, Mondays and Wednesdays, and have been doing night rides with lights for 30-50 miles.  We leave around 5:15 and get back somewhere between 7:30 – 8:30.  It has been unseasonable warm recently, so these rides have been great. Nearly shorts weather.

But that all changed yesterday.  It started raining and the temperature dropped.  Now there is a pretty thick layer of ice over everything.  Really bad for the mass Black Friday shopping day. Even worse for the guys that were hoping to get in some miles over the long weekend.

That is the problem with making out training plans, especially in the winter.  It is so weather dependent.  You’re hoping to get in a big block of miles to hold you over for a couple weeks and then the roads are thick ice.

So, indoors is where you go.  Like I said above, I don’t like it much.  I do it occasionally, but try to avoid it.  And I’ve done it a ton.

I spent a whole winter in Grand Forks North Dakota, riding an ergometer for hours a day.  I nearly became a professional ergometer rider.  When I flew back to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, I was unreal on Eddie B.’s ergometer tests.  It didn’t really have that much to do with being a good bike racer, in retrospect.

Anyway, there are so many choices for trainers and indoor riding.  I think the new training methods and mentality blends in great for indoor training.  All these guys that want to train by wattage/heartrate/numbers, it is perfect.  But in reality, I think riding outside for an hour when it is cold out is better than 2-3 hours on a trainer.

My friend Mike McCarthy sent me a note about a couple years ago about a company he is involved in, Zwift.  It is like an interactive video game for trainer riding.  I think you can do rides with other people, races, climb, etc.  I’ve never done it, but it might become addictive.

When Lawson Craddock hurt himself early this year, I guess he spent nearly a month on the trainer riding Zwift.  It must have some attraction because he seemed to persevere the month and came out super strong.  I might give it a try sometime later this winter, if I have the time.

Kathy LeMond sent me a LeMond trainer last year.  I only rode it a couple times.  I meant to take it back to Minneapolis this past summer, but never made it.  Now yesterday, I put my cross bike on the trainer and rode an hour using my power meter.  I can’t say I really enjoyed the whole ordeal, but I’m thinking that is going to be my training again today.  I was hoping to go for a short run, but running on ice isn’t a good idea for me just right now.

Okay, this isn’t like the 1x debate, which got totally blown out of proportion.    I don’t like riding indoors and try to avoid it like the plague.  If indoor training is your deal, then so be it.  It is hard enough keeping form over the winter, do it how it works for you.


11 thoughts on “Indoor Training

  1. Catherine

    Music. Put some headphones on with great music and pop in a video for the visual with no sounds. Goes fast that way.

  2. Calvin Jones

    Why can’t trainer software be driving a tank or a formula one car or a fighter jet or some star wars space ship? Guess trainers need all the distraction tech can give it. DI2/etap buttons as triggers for the raygun/machine gun/tankgun/squirtgun.

  3. jeff

    riding inside sucks big bananas… everyone up north rides inside, even in the daamn summer time when its 30oC+ outside… wtff – are you a hamster I ask… is it that important for you to win that you want to mount yourself inside all the time… very odd …

    I ride all year around, winter and summer. In the winter, use a fat big for the snowshoe trails and if black ice use 295 studded tires…. works well. Good adrenalin rush.

    I don’t understand people that ride inside all the time… when it comes to technical rides, they fail badly.
    there is something to say about those that ride outside a lot, no fear, enjoying it all, enjoying life.
    for those inside – are you a hamster???

    1. jeff

      my trainer has been sitting in its box for the past 4 years… I dread doing it.
      I know I could make great gains on it, but I much prefer living… enjoying the great outdoors.
      Life is pleasant being outside with nature.
      life is boooooring being inside all the time…. not natural at all… hamster living…. boooooring.

    2. Charlie

      I understand why a lot of people don’t like riding inside. I used to hate it, too. Then I lived in Cairo for two years and could only ride outside twice/week on a good week due to traffic, work schedule, and high temperatures. Once we moved back, I was used to it as a necessary evil. Then we had kids, and I had to maximize the little time I could ride a bike. It’s not ideal, but it still gets the endorphins popping, and if you don’t have a lot of time to ride as well as live in a frigid climate in the Winter, it’s better than nothing. So, no–not a hamster but I get where you’re coming from. I just got a fat bike this year, so I hope to get out on the trails more often this Winter.

  4. Jason Laidlaw

    Got on my trainer today and really enjoyed the experience, said no one ever. The new tech around Zwift will change social riding experience just like Strava has changed riding habits. Bring a “new school” idea to mind numbing trainer rides is smart. All of us know what works for us during training. Zwift is convenient and will give the connection to real life racing with out the flat tires and ice covered roads. I still hate the trainer but love Zwift!

  5. Dale

    Wait… did I just read “2-3 hours on a trainer”? How is this even possible? After an hour I’m ready to slash my wrists

  6. RGTR

    Supposedly the trainer is around 1.5-1.6x the same time outside. I have noticed this with my own experience: I come off 2 hours from the trainer and can barely function the following day. 2 hours outside solo and I’m normal the next day. This is with the same avg wattage from both rides. I have no idea why this is. The outdoor ride takes a little more wall clock time because there is no where around here you can pedal for a solid two hours like I can on the trainer. I’ve done a few 3 hour rides on the trainer but that’s nearing my limit.

    The key to using the trainer is proper cooling. It’s very easy to get stuck in a high humidity cocoon and pour sweat.

  7. Bill K

    I’m lucky that my brain is so small it doesn’t mind 90-120 minutes of intervals on a trainer in the winter. I just can’t do intervals outside when it’s in the 30’s. I can dress for riding hard and I can dress for riding easy, but I can’t dress for both.
    To each his (or her) own.


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